Whether you’re in need of more light inside a dim wedding venue, or are hoping to dabble in the world of studio lighting, one of the most cost-effective means of getting into artificial lighting is to purchase a speedlight. These devices, for the unfamiliar, are small flash modules that attach to cameras and accessories using an integrated hot shoe mount. They’re powered via batteries, most often AA, and can be fired either wirelessly or through the hot shoe when attached to a camera. They’re small — at least, compared to more heavy-duty studio lights — self-contained, and offer an incredible amount of lighting for their size and price.
Large camera companies — such as Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc. — make a handful of speedlights, but if you’re looking for something a little more affordable, it’s best to go the third-party route. To help you navigate the crowded market, we’ve rounded up four of the best budget speedlight offerings that cover a range of prices and power – all costing $70 or less.
If you like to pack light, or simply have a smaller camera setup, it might make sense to go for a smaller speedlight. One of the best you’re going to find is the Neewer NW-610II, a universal speedlight designed to work with everything from mirrorless to DSLR cameras.
The device’s streamlined design is smaller than its full-sized counterparts, but it still packs a punch with a guide number of 27 (the higher the number, the more powerful the light). Its flash head is also adjustable in locking increments of 0, 60, 75, and 90 degrees, which offers greater creative control than other compact speedlights. The Neewer NW-610II is powered by two AA batteries, which allow it to fire off somewhere between 100 and 680 flashes, depending on the power and type of battery you use.
Moving on up, both in size and power, we have Amazon’s proprietary speedlight, the AmazonBasics Electronic Flash. Designed specifically with DSLRs in mind, this speedlight is a bit larger than our last pick, yet, it offers a bit more functionality because of it.
Its guide number is 33 — making it only marginally more powerful — but its rotating/tilting head, built-in diffuser, and eight brightness levels allow for more control over where the flash is facing when fired.
Amazon says it works with both Canon and Nikon cameras, but in manual mode, it should work with most any camera. The flash even includes an integrated slave mode for triggering multiple units at once, so long as you have a master unit attached to your camera.
If you need something more robust than Amazon’s basic offering, Yongnuo’s YN560 IV might be what you’re looking for. The fourth-gen of the affordable speedlight that arguably started the budget trend, the YN 560IV is a solid iteration of what was already an impressive speedlight for the value.
Inside the YN560 IV is a wireless triggering system that works alone, or hand-in-hand with Yongnuo’s collection of radio transmitters, thus helping to create a wireless lighting setup that doesn’t rely on fickle, visual-based triggers.
The speedlight still lacks through the lens (TTL) control, but considering the price, manual is to be expected. The guide number is 58, too, so you should be getting a great deal more power from this than Amazon’s aforementioned offering.
Neewer has made its name known with an excellent lineup of wears, many of which, like the aforementioned NW-610II, are just as affordable as those from other third-party manufacturers. This is namely because the company’s speedlights tout just as many, if not more, features than you’d find on most competing flashes that fall within the same price range — just take the NW660 III as a prime example.
This speedlight features a built-in, 2.4GHz wireless triggering system, which works alongside Neewer’s other speedlights and wireless triggers to create a wireless workflow. Other features include an E-TTL mode, high-speed sync, rear-curtain sync, and high-speed bursts that allow for up to 12 flashes a second.
Whether used alone on your hotshoe or in conjunction with other flash systems, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more capable speedlight at this price point.